My dear brothers and sisters,

Over the last few days you have received a lot of information from me. Things have been changing and evolving very quickly around us. This is understandable as our Government develops more and better policies of how to keep the nation safe. As a Church our role is to support our own people within the Church family but also to be at the service of all people. Our places of worship, our institutions need to be safe.

Hence, we will abide by medical advice and the lawful directives of our Government. This also means that all our Parish meetings will be put on hold for the time being, except after consulting the Bishop.

In view of this, as many of you already know, very reluctantly, but for very good reasons we have been forced to suspend not only our public Sunday mass but also our weekday masses and indeed to keep our Churches locked. This pains me enormously, but I know it is the right thing to do.

We need to find creative ways of still offering pastoral care for all. As you already know every Sunday there will be a televised mass celebrated in our Cathedral, Mary Star of the Sea at 9am on Sunday mornings on Aboriginal TV (Channel 4), Larrakia Radio 94.5FM, Australian Indigenous Radio VAST913 (National Radio 2400ATSI Communities), on TV Radio Channel 401 and 403, Aboriginal Melbourne Radio 3KND, YouTube Stream available from Aboriginal TV and Catholic Websites. I am grateful to Dr Donna Odegaard for her generosity and for the splendid work of her staff.

Although the mass will be pre-recorded during the week, I will actually be celebrating mass in the Cathedral each Sunday at 9am, the same time as the broadcast is taking place. I remind you of being able to make a spiritual or communion by desire. I repeat this can be done by simply expressing your desire to receive communion and although you cannot physically be present, you will be able to receive the same graces through the mercy of God as if you had been at communion.

Also, from Monday to Saturday I will celebrate mass in the Cathedral Presbytery Chapel at midday. This mass will be live streamed and also available on demand through our social media channels from tomorrow 24 March 2020. Every morning I will send out a spiritual reflection which you can access on our Diocesan Facebook site – Catholic Diocese of Darwin. As I have mentioned in my previous letter, confession, marriage, funerals and the care of the sick will also be available in appropriate ways – please contact your Parish Priest.Please avail yourselves of the Pastoral care offered by our Priests and other pastoral workers by use of phone or personal connection using appropriate measures.

My dear friends, yes indeed these are challenging times but because of Jesus we have every reason to be hopeful. We are never going to be abandoned by him. So, by various forms of prayer such as the prayer of the Church on line or otherwise, the Rosary, reading the scriptures and any other form of prayer that helps you come closer to God, let us continue growing spiritually in our relationship with God.

I am very conscious that this may be a time of hardship, financial or otherwise for many. Let’s not stop helping each other and be there for each other. Our St Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Care and other agencies are all there to support us in our time of need. In our day-to-day encounters with others such as when go shopping, etc., let us keep a spirit of compassion, generosity and respect. In our prayers we keep not only our own Diocese and the people around us, but the world. Pope Francis has invited all Christians to join together in praying the Our Father at noon on Wednesday 25 March 2020 as a response to the Covid-19 corona virus pandemic.

I will continue to connect with you all as things develop and, in the meantime, I promise my prayers for you, please pray for me and each other.

Yours in Christ

Bishop Charles Gauci

Bishop of Darwin 23.03.2020